Mind Mapping with FreeMind (Review)

Anyone who’s into GTD, is also familiar with Mind Mapping, which was popularised (coined) by the psychology author Tony Buzan. Wikipedia describes mind maps as

A mind map (or mind-map) is a diagram used for linking words and ideas to a central key word or idea. It is used to visualize, classify, structure, and generate ideas, as well as an aid in study, problem solving, and decision making.

Please Note: I’ve moved home, read this article at its new address! Thank you!


  1. I’ve just installed Freemind and finding the concept to draw it. Thank for your sharing! 🙂

  2. Great review.

    I wrote last month a post on using FreeMind for GTD, which might be of interest to you. http://venier.blogspot.com/2006/01/rediscovering-freemind.html

  3. I use FreeMind as well – it’s straightforward, saves as XML, and is multi-platform. Thanks for the review.

    P.S. I use it to manage my networking – more here: http://ideamatt.blogspot.com/2006/03/on-goal-of-meeting-three-new-people.html

  4. Juan Pedro

    Just to notice that you can use the freeMindFlashBrowser to visualize your mindMaps in your browser. You can get it in: http://www.efectokiwano.net/mm/freeMindFlashBrowser.zip and see it working in http://www.efectokiwano.net/mm/index.html?freeMindFlashBrowser.mm

  5. Miguel Angel PĂ©rez Alvarez

    Mindmap en español funciona genial para desarrollar ambientes de aprendizaje basados em computadoras. Sólo pide a los alumnos que desarollen un mapa conceptual sobre el tema de tu curso y el desarollo de habilidades metacognitivas empieza a fluir casi naturalmente. Muy recomendable

  6. Michael

    This software is the essence of simplicity. If you learn how to use it properly using shortcut keys, you will be able to map out huge projects without any downtime, and not even having too touch the mouse too often. A uni students’ dream tool I think. Does it support tablet PC’s cause that would be the bomb!!!! (thats if i can afford to fork out $2000 for a tablet pc that is)

  7. Staz

    I’ve been drawing concept maps almost my entire life, but got into mind maps about 30 years ago. It’s only been the last couple of years, however, that I began to use mm software. Freemind was one of the first packages and I still use it occasionally; it’s nice software and you can’t beat the price, but I find it a little too quirky and featureless for my mainstream work. It’s getting better with every release, and your review gave me some ideas, so maybe in the future who knows. But it has a big challenge ahead to top the likes of MindGenius, ConceptDraw MindMap, MindManager and Inspiration, just to name a few (all pricey though).

    Incidentally, Gael Limited in Scotland produces MindGenius; Buzan probably just has a marketing relationship with the company, as he does with several other mm software companies that want to use his name.

    I’ve used MindGenius Business 2005 almost every day for the last year or more, but I’m currently evaluating about 40 other concept-mapping and mind-mapping packages, including Freemind. And there’s a lot more than that on the market. If I ever get my review finished, I’ll send you my blog link.

  8. Good review! Thank you.

    Did you come across mindmaps designed specificaly for ease of use in following associations?
    A mind mapping type of tool where you let your associasions “run wild”, but then gives you an intuitive interface to retrack your steps, and keep on going from one of the branches you left open on your way?

  9. I like ConceptDraw Mindmap (www.conceptdraw.com/mindmap) for its ability to draw mind maps in more Buzan-style (colours, icons, pictures library etc.) And it works on Mac too, so I can use it on my macbook.

  10. Johannes


    I wanted to try FreeMind, but gave up after one hour figthing dependencies under Fedora Core 5.

    It would be useful to package it in a way that it can be installed with managable effort.

  11. computeruservideophiler

    I love FreeMind. It is a very easy program to use. One of the things that I don’t like about it is that when I export the mind map to pdf, the grey node that is highlighted shows up in the resulting PDF.

  12. This is clearly a wonderful piece of software! Well done!

    I only whish it was somehow integrated with the Eclipse IDE (as a plugin). This would bring tremendous benefits to any programmer!

  13. @Valeriu;
    Thanks for pointing that out. I don’t use the Eclipse IDE, but maybe a FreeMind (or other) developer will see this, and help integrate it.

  14. Raja Rao

    Yeah…its really cool for mindmapping

  15. Have a look at http://www.mindmaple.com, it’s new mind mapping software with features to help your mind mapping better for project management and solving problems !!

  16. +1 to that and I learn from amazing community of commenters every single day.

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